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  • BMI 23.5

Obesity & Me

Describe your behavioral and emotional battle with weight control before learning about bariatric surgery.

I have been battling my weight since I was about 6 years old. By the time I was 8 I was obese and by high school morbidly obese. I was starting to grow into my weight and at about 14 I started feeling almost "normal" in my small town school. I gained a little weight when I got my license and began working in a restaurant and splurged on fried food all summer but then I was in a minor car accident in a parking lot which resulted in two bulging discs in my low back and lots of pain. I didn't understand my injury at all and in the end I got depressed and gained weight. By the time I graduated in 2001 I weighed around 280 lbs. and I tried and tried to loose weight only to have my back go out and gain more. My life went on a wild ride just after I graduated I was 17 years old living at home with my mother planning to go to community college and work there on work study trying to save for my own place. In October 2002 my mother rolled her car and I became her care giver. She was at that time diagnosed bi-polar with a brain injury which as anyone can imagine is not what a 17 year old wants to take on but I was the only person there for her and so I helped her and helped her and only just recently stopped caring for her. Now I didn't always take care of her by living with her and doing things for her on a daily basis some times it was a phone call every day multiple times a day just so she was sure I was ok but she still used me as her emotional dumping ground and I internalized a lot of her issues that she took out on me. I got further and further into depression as I began my 20's grasping at anything I could find relationship wise and ended up marrying a man who was 365 days older than me (his birthday is Christmas mine Christmas eve and he forgot mine lol) He became a truck driver a month after we met and after we got married (9 months into our relationship) then moved into his truck at about our 3 month anniversary which gave me a much needed break from my mother but the anxiety of her phone calls and the emotional roller coaster that was our relationship sent me running to food again for comfort. And it didnt help that my husband and I were having trouble and he began emotionally abusing me but I didnt realize until he threw something at me and cut my arm and didnt see a problem with it. At that point I gathered all my courage and at 21 I left him in Dallas I caught a bus home to Colorado and divided our storage unit he was peaceful about things and since there were no kids we were able to get our divorce finalized one year after we got married. I hadn't realized how badly damaged I was but I had left him for a driver friend of his ( I know I was terrible) He was 21 as well and just starting out. My ex husband would tell me things like "you can't handle something as big as a truck" so my new boyfriend (Jon) was encouraging me to go to the school he went to. Now The odd thing about this all is that when my ex husband told me he was going to become a driver I begged him not to I was terrified of it and once I left him having never been on a bus in my life to going on the bus back to Colorado then a few weeks later I was on a bus to visit Jon in his home in Texas and back and then the following week I found myself on a bus from Colorado springs to Hazlewood Missouri and the time of my life. I steadily gained weight during trucking school and as I began my life on the road. Some where along the way I stopped looking in mirrors refusing to believe that my weight had gotten worse and thinking that clothing sizes had gotten smaller. At my largest I weighed over 400 lbs. I don't exactly know how much over but I remember being at a truck stop in a little town and needing to weigh my truck. I left my truck on the scale since no one was there and went in to get my scale ticket. It said my steers were over by like 435 lbs. and I happened to look at the screen displaying the current weight of my truck and it was reading just under legal weight. I was mortified in that moment. I went back to my truck and began driving I refused to deal with that then and I began eating like mad for about a month. I don't have any pictures of myself at my heaviest but my heaviest came in May of 2007 when I began a relationship and began team driving with TJ who was himself around 500 lbs and we became eating buddies and honestly I am glad it ended when it did because neither of us was sleeping as a team. If it hadn't ended then I fear what my life may have been like. I took some time off the road and went back to moms after a big falling out with my father who I had been staying with in Maryland (my home state originally) when I was on home time. I started loosing weight bit by bit for a while and things were good but I got very quickly tired of mom and I went back to my job with Us Xpress and back to Baltimore. I began gaining weight or a while again but by April of 2009 I weighed 318 lbs. I was also at that point dating my now "husband" (not married but living together raising our kids) We broke up and I found out I was pregnant. I managed to control myself during my pregnancy when it came to food and by the time my son was born in December 2009 I weighed 285 lbs. I tried to stay at that weight but emotions came into play again and I didn't want to deal with them in the moment. Dave and I got back together and he moved to Colorado with me into my mothers house. Now that is a "great" idea for a couple with a baby. LOL. Anyway i soon was back at 320 lbs and pregnant again with my daughter. When she was born in February 2011 I weighed 280 again but by March I was in the 290's/ That was when I finally asked my doctor for help. Now I had asked for help from doctors since I was 12 with no real help so I had given up for a long time until I realized that if I didn't act on my weight and fix my issues with food my children were doomed to follow my path into bad habits and bad food choices. My doctor took one look at me when I said I need help with my weight and referred me to the bariatric clinic at the University of Colorado Hospital and Dr Kevin Rothchild. I thought it would be September before I would have my first consult with Dr. Rothchild and so I tried to just be patient and not get too excited. I figured this would not end up working out for me. I wasn't happy with the idea that my family doc had suggested gastric by-pass but I felt that if I didn't give this a chance I would regret it. To my surprise I got a call in late June 2011 for an appt opening that Friday. I live about 2 and a half hours from Denver and for me that kind of trip is expensive and hard on my car but Dave I and the kids piled in the car and went to my first appt. I was nervous and still sure surgery wouldn't happen for some reason. I met Dr Rothchild and he explained the three options open to me band sleeve or by-pass. Immediately I wanted sleeve because in my mind my stomach was simply stretched too much and that was why I had failed. ( I didnt realize the emotions that come with the weight loss ) I left feeling a bit happier and knowing I had to do a nutrition class which was scheduled about two week away and a psych eval that I did in early July. I initially expected it to take at least a year until I might actually have surgery but my surgeon didn't require a diet or weight loss prior to surgery because he felt I had failed enough times that he didn't want to add to it and since nothing else has worked. My nutrition class had to be rescheduled for August 2011 because I fell leaving my house heading to the class in July and cracked my tail bone and twisted my ankle. Once my class was done I was called with a surgery date of Sept 13 2011 and that was the day that changed my life! Since surgery I have gone from 278 lbs to 168 in 18 months and my entire family has benefited. My husband has lost 85 lbs because of the new way I cook. I have completely changed the way I see food and what I see as food. I look at things that aren't from nature as "food crack" and I have no more cravings for such junk. I love learning new healthy recipes and I still LOVE food I just have discovered how to use it to love myself as well. I have been stretching my body (just simple floor stretching) everyday since surgery and my back injury which was made worse in 09 when the lowest disc ruptured, finally began feeling better. I began doing yoga when I was down to about 225 lbs and I love it. I have no only lost 110 lbs with help of surgery I have also gained an inch and a quarter in height. I was weighed and measured by a doctor I asked for help in 2007 my height was 5' 8" even today I am 5'9.25" that is blowing my mind. :) there is A LOT more to my story but if you have come this far I will just stop here and you can ask me anything you like. I feel my life is an open book when it comes to my weight loss and if I can help anyone else then I am happy to. I have to say this has been the best thing I have ever done for myself and I hope I can help others on their journey into health!

What was (is) the worst thing about being overweight?

I now feel the worst thing about being overweight is the acceptance that all I would ever be was "fat" I was sure there was no hope for me just a few short years ago. I believed that I couldn't change and I got deeper and deeper into the hole I was digging with what I choose to eat.

If you have had weight loss surgery already, what things do you most enjoy doing now that you weren't able to do before?

I can touch my toes! :) and I fit EVERYWHERE! I can wear regular sized clothing and all the buttons stay closed. I never worry that my pants are going to rip when I sit down. I dont worry I will break chairs anymore. I finally look like the bombshell I always wanted to be ;)

How did you first find out about bariatric surgery and what were your initial impressions of it?

Initially I honestly thought by having surgery to loose weight that would mean I had failed. In reality there is nothing I have failed at since I began this journey! When I decided I wanted help I was hoping to have lap-band because to me by-pass was too drastic but I didnt like the idea of the band and the fills. I found out about sleeve and knew that was it for me.

Describe your experience with getting insurance approval for surgery. What advice, if any, do you have for other people in this stage?

I had mine while on medicaid and I was shocked at how quickly the process moved. I asked for help in March 2011 and had my surgery Sept 2011.

What made you finally decide to have the surgery?

I decided to go through with surgery because I knew my children were doomed to follow me down the path into bad habits and bad food choices if I didn't do something. The risks of surgery scared me but the risk of continuing down the road I was on was so much more scary to me.

What fears did you have about having complications or even dying from from the surgery, and what would you tell other people having the same fears now?

I have been relying on motivational sayings and the best one I have found says "Everything you want is on the other side of fear!" I have found this to be true and I hope others can gain the same inspiration from it I have.

How did your family and friends react to your decision? Would you have communicated anything differently if you could now? How supportive were they after your surgery?

I told everyone and still do. I have had wonderful reactions. There have been a few nay sayer's but those were people who I know wish they could do something to help them selves too. I had one woman hug me and thank me for having the courage to go threw with surgery and help myself. She is in her late 50's weighing close to 500 lbs and having a hard time moving just to stand and give me a hug. She really helped me realize surgery takes courage but it is so worth it. I was looking at her realizing she was my future if I stayed on my path.

How did your employer/supervisor react to your decision? What did you tell him/her? How long were you out of work?

I havent worked since 2009 when my son was born I have been a stay at home mom and recently I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia so my driving career is over. I consider what I do at home work and when it comes to recovery time with a 7 month old baby and a 21 months old was about two weeks for me.

What was your stay in the hospital like? How long where you there? What things are most important to bring?

To m a hospital stay is like a resort vacation with pain meds lol. I know I might be a bit odd in that but what can I say it doesnt take much to impress me :) I got to the hospital at 5 am Sept 13 and left around 5 pm Sept 16th. I seem to have blood pressure issues because of Iv fluids so I was kept a day longer for high BP monitoring.

Did you have any complications from the surgery? If so, how did you deal with them?

I had a hard time with the tube in my nose when I woke up and on day two after the dye test I wretched the tube out which made my nurse mad. Then on day 6 I was at home with the drain tube in my side and one of my stitches holding it in place broke so I tried to get up and felt a sharp pain. The small town EMT's over reacted and took me by helicopter to the hospital where I was told the pain was because the tube moved and it came out the next day with Dr Rothchid as scheduled. Since then I have had a few bouts of vomiting for no reason but nothing major.

In the weeks after you got your surgery date, how did you feel? How did you cope with any anxiety you might have felt?

I was put on Xanax at about 6 week post op because I was so anxious I felt like a raw nerve. I am still on it but only as needed now which is like once a week or less.

What aftercare support group/program do you have? How helpful/important is this?

I never went to therapy until a few weeks ago and that is going well but I have used writing as an outlet and another gastric sleeve support forum online. This has been an invaluable resource for me. i can vent when i have an issue and I can relate to so many people. there is so much advice and support that I always feel like someone cares about me even when things are bad,

What is your scar like? Is this what you expected?

I have 5 small scars on my belly which are pretty much going away. I have excess skin which isn't nearly as bad as I had expected and as it seems to get better and better my scars are getting lighter and lighter.

Please describe any plateau experiences you have had since surgery.

I plateaued a lot and still do at times. I find a plateau is a fear I have to face. Some kind of emotional block that I have to deal with and get past so that I can continue down in weight.

Do you notice people treating you any differently now?

I dont know that people treat me differently but then I am not out around too many people that often but I do feel the difference in the way people look at me (and I love it!)
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